Letters

first_imgAlmaty needs helpSir – In your news item on Kazakstan (RG 12.96 p786) reference is made to the signature of a letter of intent for Skoda Plzen to rehabilitate the tramway networks in Almaty and Akmola. Some difficulty may be experienced in rehabilitating the Akmola network, as while Akmola has trolleybuses, it has never operated a tramway.Even to rehabilitate the Almaty tramway would involve much effort. Since the end of the Soviet era, six of the nine routes have closed, and the fleet of 202 cars has diminished to about 55, of which only 36 are capable of operation on any one day. The condition of both vehicles and track is almost beyond redemption, and the local authority sees the future in terms of franchising urban motor bus routes for private sector operation.That said, it is understood that certain issues have been discussed at central government level concerning Skoda’s capabilities in the sphere of electric transport development, especially for Almaty. However, as yet there have been neither specific feasibility studies nor any business plans, nor has there been any discussion about the scale or apportionment of investment. Thus at present electric transport rehabilitation is little more than an idea, although it may gain some tangible shape when Skoda’s delegation arrives in Almaty for negotiations.Some sort of aid package would make sense, as Almaty currently holds the dubious distinction of being the world’s only major city which is simultaneously abandoning its tramway and failing to open its metro (on which work ceased in 1993). The national and local authorities might be well advised to consider integrating the still physically intact tramway with the metro tunnels to create a San Francisco style subway-surface light rail network.T V RunnaclesNorth Point, Hong Konglast_img read more

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Schools to Continue Distance Learning; 36 PBC Assisted Living Facilities on COVID-19 Case List

first_imgGov. Ron DeSantis announced on Saturday that all Florida K-12 students will continue their education via distance learning through the end of this school year.The governor called it an easy decision, since the likelihood of reopening for only a few weeks in May would have offered little academic benefit.“There were some differing opinions,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Tallahassee. He added there was “pretty good momentum for distance learning” amid the coronavirus pandemic.DeSantis explained that he understands the social impacts of children not being able to see their friends. He plans to ease some restrictions in the next phase so that “kids will have a little bit more to be able to do,” but he did not provide specifics.“You had kind of a division among folks whether this was a good idea or not,” he said. “And I think the last thing you want to do is, like, force everyone in school and have half the kids not show up because their parents didn’t want — their teachers didn’t want — to do it.”Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Health released a list of all nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the state that have had at least one person test positive for COVID-19.In Palm Beach County, 36 facilities have at least one case.The Department of Health says there are 25,492 total cases of COVID-19 in Florida as of Saturday evening.At least 748 Florida residents have died from COVID-19.Current Positive Cases in FloridaPalm Beach County: 2,138 cases-114 deaths-Men: 1,027, Women: 1,045-357 hospitalizationsBroward County: 3,838 cases-115 deaths-Men: 1,931, Women: 1,776-674 hospitalizationsMiami-Dade County: 9,045 cases-195 deaths-Men: 4,607, Women: 4,288-866 hospitalizationsTesting in Florida:-Total Tests: 253,183-Positive: 25,492-Negative: 225,862last_img read more

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Global travellers vote SAA as Africa’s best

first_img9 December 2014Global travellers have voted South African Airways (SAA) as the Best Airline in Africa at the annual Premier Traveler Magazine awards, which recognise the world’s top travel companies, SAA said in a statement on Monday.The publication’s annual reader choice survey recognised SAA’s “quality of product and customer service integrity” at the awards ceremony in Los Angeles last week.“We appreciate that Premier Traveler Magazine’s readers are global travellers who expect the best on the airlines they fly, so we are honoured and thankful that they have consistently named us as the best airline on the African continent throughout the years,” said Marc Cavaliere, SAA’s executive vice president in North America.“SAA has worked hard to continually enhance our products both in the air and on the ground to meet the needs of today’s discerning international business travellers.”Shan Willis, the executive editor of Premier Traveler, said that SAA is voted number one by our readers “year after year”.“SAA is consistently moving in a direction of excellence, continuing to raise the bar. Congratulations on this well-deserved honour,” he said.DestinationsSAA offers the most flights from the US to South Africa with daily nonstop service from New York-JFK Airport and daily direct service from Washington DC-Dulles Airport to Johannesburg.From Johannesburg, SAA and its regional airline partners offer flights to over 55 business and leisure destinations throughout the continent.The airline celebrated its 80th anniversary this year, and also received the Skytrax World Airline Award for Best Airline Africa for the 12th consecutive year and Best Airline Staff Service Africa for the third year.With its regional partners and code shares, SAA operates to 40 destinations worldwide. In its domestic market, it operates 660 flights a week. Regionally, it offers 26 destinations across Africa. SAA’s international network links to all continents from South Africa through 11 direct routes and code shares.Source: South African Airwayslast_img read more

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Ohio State’s Greer a member of the 2018 #RealPigFarming Student Social Forces Team

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag NetThe Pork Checkoff has selected 12 college students to represent the #RealPigFarming Student Social Forces team. The program, now in its fourth year, partners with students who are earning a degree in agriculture and allows them to help share the stories of pig farmers all across the U.S.“These students are interested in our industry and want to tell our story so we will bring them in for training and give them the tools that they need to do so,” said Claire Masker, communications director with the National Pork Board. “At the end of the program, they will all receive a scholarship to go toward their tuition and fees at their university.”Social media is ingrained in the lives of young people. Masker says this is a tool to tell the story of pig farming.“In our social networks, if you are on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Snapchat, a lot of people that follow you probably aren’t involved in agriculture or in pig farming,” Masker said. “We can use these platforms to become experts for those individuals and that is the goal of this program. We are giving these students the tools to share our message with their network. They don’t have to go out and be a superstar on social media to make an impact. They can just share their stories with people within their social sphere.”The 2018 class of Social Forces includes Abbie Greer, who is studying Ag Business and Meat Science at The Ohio State Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI). She is spending her summer working on a farm and getting pigs ready for the Ohio State Fair. The chore list includes working the pigs twice a day, washing them multiple times a day and making sure they are giving proper nutrition to get them ready for the show ring.“My family didn’t come from an ag background, so I have learned so much by working at a pig farm,” Greer said. “I was recently able to help farrow 67 sows out, so I really got to see the entire process of raising them from piglets to market ready and seeing the quality of the finished product.”As Greer begins to chronicle her time on the farm for the Pork Checkoff, she is realizing that her audience may be seeing, for the first time, what Greer sees every day.“I am trying to be more in-depth with that I am showing and saying in my social media posts,” Greer said. “I am ready to be there if anyone that sees what I post has any questions about how or why something is being done on the farm. My goal is to put as much knowledge out there as I can and I hope that when someone sees what goes into pig farming it gives them a chance to think about it and recognize that meat doesn’t just come from the grocery store.”Follow Greer on Twitter (@abbiegreer1935), on Instagram (abbieee_greerrr) and on Snapchat (abbie-greer). You can follow all of the students on the Student Social Forces Team with #RealPigFarming.last_img read more

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New Ag Census Data Released

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Chris ClaytonDTN Ag Policy EditorWASHINGTON (DTN) — There were fewer middle-sized farms in 2017 than five years earlier, and the age of the average farm operator continues to tick upward, according to results of the 2017 Census of Agriculture released Thursday.USDA boasted the 2017 Census of Agriculture includes 6.4 million new points of information about farms and ranches and the people who run them, breaking down more information to the county level. The data is used by policymakers to help determine local funding for a variety of programs, and the census data is often used to highlight specific information about farms and ranches.USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service said the data shows that both farm numbers and land in farms have had small declines since the last census in 2012. There are more large farms and more small farms but fewer “middle-sized farms,” according to the data. The average age of all farmers and ranchers also continues to rise.According to the data, there were 85,127 farms with 2,000 or more acres in 2017, and those operators made up 58% of all farmland. At the same time, the 273,000 smallest farmers, each with under 10 acres of ground, made up just 0.1% of all farm ground.There are 2.04 million farms and ranches, down 3.2% from 2012, with an average size of 441 acres, which is up 1.6%, from 2017. Combined, farms and ranches operate on 900 million acres of ground, which is down 1.6% from 2012.Fewer farmers make up the bulk of U.S. farm sales, USDA noted. Just 105,453 farms produced 75% of all sales in 2017, down from 119,908 in 2012.Of the 2.04 million farms and ranches, the 76,865 making $1 million or more in 2017 represent just over two-thirds of the $389 billion in total value of production, while the 1.56 million operations making under $50,000 represent just 2.9%.According to USDA, the average age of all farmers and ranchers is 57.5 years, up 1.2 years from the 2012 average.The Ag Census showed 96% of farms and ranches are family owned.Farm expenses topped $326 billion in 2017 with feed, livestock purchased, hired labor, fertilizer and cash rents topping the list of farm expenses.While average farm income was $43,053 in 2017, a total of 56.4% of farmers had negative net cash farm income that year. USDA highlighted 43.6% of farmers had positive net cash income.A total of 130,056 farms in 2017 sold directly to consumers, but sales reached $2.8 billion. That breaks down to average sales of roughly $2,153 per farm.Regarding the internet of things, farms with internet access rose from 69.6% in 2012 to 75.4% in 2017. Still, roughly one-quarter of all farms do not have internet access.Renewable energy systems on farms exploded from 2012 to 2017. A total of 133,176 farms and ranches use renewable-energy-producing systems, more than double the 57,299 in 2012.USDA changed some demographic questions for the 2017 census to better draw in all of the people involved in the decision-making on farms. By doing so, the number of farmers and ranchers rose nearly 7% to 3.4 million people, with most of the growth because of multiple producers added per farm. Most of the new producers added were female as well.The number of male farmers and ranchers fell 1.7% to 2.17 million from 2012 to 2017, while the number of female farmers and ranchers rose by nearly 27% to 1.23 million. USDA stated, “This change underscores the effectiveness of the questionnaire changes.”The changes show 36% of all farmers and ranchers are female and 56% of all farms have at least one female decision-maker. Farms with female producers making decisions tend to be smaller than average in both acres and value of production. Female farmers and ranchers are most heavily engaged in the day-to-day decisions along with record keeping and financial management.There are 321,261 young producers age 35 or younger on 240,141 farms. Farms with young producers making decisions tend to be larger than average in both acres and sales.Other demographic highlights include:— The number of producers who have served in the military is 370,619, or 11% of all farmers and ranchers.— One in four producers is a beginning farmer with 10 or fewer years of experience and an average age of 46.3. Farms with new or beginning producers making decisions tend to be smaller than average in both acres and value of production.GROUPS REACT TO NEW DATAThe National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) highlighted the census release, stating the data provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agriculture data for every county in the nation. Census data provides federal, state and industry groups with data necessary to make informed decisions about agriculture, food and rural development, NASDA stated.“Census data is crucial for understanding large trends and issues such as trading markets and the impact of natural disasters,” said Barb Glenn, NASDA’s CEO. “Good policymaking starts with ample and unbiased data. We encourage everyone to take advantage of this irreplaceable resource.”The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said in a news release Thursday that the main takeaway from the new ag census data is that consolidation in agriculture is resulting in the loss of more medium-sized family farms and concentrating wealth and power among fewer, larger agribusinesses.“The 2017 Census of Agriculture puts hard data behind what American farmers and farmer advocates have known for some time — if we don’t invest in beginning farmers and the advancement of our family farms, and if we don’t put checks on increasing consolidation in agriculture, we’re going to be at risk of losing the ag of the middle entirely,” Juli Obudzinski, NSAC’s interim policy director, stated in the news release.However, Obudzinski also noted there were several positive points in the census that can serve as “guideposts” for determining the right investments and making food and farm policy decisions at the federal level.“Beginning farmers have increased by 5% over the last five years, for example. That’s a clear sign that interest in agriculture is rising — but it also means that we’ve got to increase our investment in support and outreach to meet that rising interest,” Obudzinski said. “We’re also seeing great trends in the organic industry — average organic sales per farm grew by 84% and the number of acres transitioning into certified organic also increased by 15% over the same period. Similarly, local food sales continue to rise; the sector is up by roughly $1.5 billion since the last Census.”To view the full 2017 Census of Agriculture report, visit: https://www.nass.usda.gov/….For the USDA NASS Quick Stats data query tool, visit https://www.nass.usda.gov/….Chris Clayton can be reached at [email protected] him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN(BAS/AG)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.last_img read more

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